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Introduction to Dynamic Objects

When going through this introduction, it is helpful to have an understanding of Object Oriented Programming, or OOP. In general, OOP is a type of programming that allows you to define state and behavior of objects. The state of an object are called properties and the behavior are defined as methods. The methods operate on the properties of the object. OOP differs from traditional structured top-down programming such that objects interact with each other by sending messages.

Dynamic Objects functionality is activated by using a file extension of .jabba or with this line at the top of the program:

$option jabba

or with a compiler directive:

#option jabba


a) You can enable all JabbaScript syntax by setting the JBC_JPP2 environment variable to jabba:

set JBC_JPP2=jabba       [Windows]
export JBC_JPP2=jabba    [Linux/Aix]

b) jBASE can auto-detect existing Dynamic Objects source code by setting the JBC_JPP2 environment variable to auto:

set JBC_JPP2=auto        [Windows]
export JBC_JPP2=auto     [Linux/Aix]

Objects and arrays are created using the new keyword:

* Create an instance of the class "Classname" and assign
* the instance to the variable "obj"
obj = new object("Classname")     
* Create an instance of "Arrayname" and assign
* the instance to the variable "myarray".
myarray = new array("Arrayname")

Instances of objects and arrays are initially void unless properties have been assigned by a constructor.

Class names are only necessary if you intend to create methods for the Class or Array, e.g.

object_with_no_methods = new object

Other ways to create an object: 

  • by calling a method of the class that creates and returns an object or an array
  • with one of the Dynamic Objects built-in methods.

For example, here we create an object from a JSON string using the built-in $fromjson() method: 

json = \{"Firstname":"Daniel","Lastname":"Klein"}\
obj = json->$fromjson()

Under the covers, the $fromjson() built-in method uses the new keyword. 

An object has access to any properties that have been created by the class's constructor method. Additionally, you can: 

  • Dynamically assign properties to the instance. 
  • Send messages to instances of the class using the pre-defined methods defined for the Class.

Let's create an object and a couple of properties: 

obj1 = new object("Tour")   ;* We will be adding a few methods to this class shortly
obj1->name = "Socrates"
obj1->city = "Athens"

To access those properties: 

crt obj1->name : " lived in " : obj1->city : "."

There are a number of methods that are built into Dynamic Objects. These methods all begin with "$". 

For example, to convert our object to a JSON string we can do this: 

equ beautify to 1
json = obj1->$tojson()
crt "Our object in JSON representation is: ":json
crt "Our object, when formatted, is:"
crt obj1->$tojson(beautify)

This will display:

Our object in JSON representation is: {"name":"Socrates","city":"Athens"}
Our object, when formatted, is:

If we want to know how many properties are in the object:

crt "Our object has ":obj1->$size():" properties."

Let's create a method for our Class. This method will simply add 2 numbers and assign the result to the "sum" property of the object. Note that the "sum" property is created dynamically; there is no template for the class, hence no need to declare it in advance.


At the present time, the source code for methods must be stored in a separate record because they are compiled to shared objects in the same way as subroutines and functions. A near-future enhancement will allow programs and methods to coexist. 

method Tour::sum1(addend1, addend2)
    this->sum = addend1 + addend2
end method

To use our method we do this: 

* Assign the property "sum" to the object with a value from running the "sum1" method
crt "The result of calling our sum1 method is: ":obj1->sum

A second way to do this is to return the result from the method. We will create a second method called "sum2": 

method Tour::sum2(value1, value2)
    return value1 + value2
end method

If we want to use this method to add the result of "sum1" and some other number:

result = obj1->sum2(obj1->sum, 6) ;* The variable "result" is assigned the sum of "12"

Yet another way is to pass a variable number of arguments and let the method sum them up:

method Tour::sum3()
    result = 0
* Create an object that can handle each parameter, 1 at a time
    varg = new object("$vararg")
    crt "Method Tour::sum3() was passed ":varg->size():" parameters"
    loop while varg->size() do
        result += varg->next() ;* Get the next parameter and decrement varg->size()
    return result
end method

We can now do things like this:

total = obj1->sum3(1001,2002,345,999,876,555)
crt "After calling sum3() the result is: ":oconv(total, "md0,")

Use the built-in $dump() method to see the internal contents of the object:

equ verbose to 1  ;* show all properties of the object
crt obj1->$dump(verbose)

Putting it all together (call this file tour.jabba ***):

001     program tour
002     equ beautify to 1
004     obj1 = new object("Tour")
005     obj1->name = "Socrates"
006     obj1->city = "Athens"
008     crt obj1->name : " lived in " : obj1->city : "."
010     json = obj1->$tojson()
011     crt
012     crt "Our object in JSON representation is: ":json
013     crt "Our object, when formatted, is:"
014     crt obj1->$tojson(beautify)
016     crt
017     crt "Our object has ":obj1->$size():" properties."
019     obj1->sum1(2,4)
021     result = obj1->sum2(obj1->sum, 6)
023     total = obj1->sum3(1001,2002,345,999,876,555)
024     crt "After calling sum3() the result is: ":oconv(total, "md0,")
026     crt
027     crt obj1->$dump(1)
028     crt obj1->$tojson(beautify)

...and the method code which, for now, must be a separate source code file (call this file tour_methods.jabba ***:):

001     method Tour::sum1(addend1, addend2)
002         this->sum = addend1 + addend2
003     end method
005     method Tour::sum2(value1, value2)
006         return value1 + value2
007     end method
009     method Tour::sum3()
010         result = 0
011 * Create an object that can handle each parameter, 1 at a time
011         varg = new object("$vararg")
013         print "Method Tour::sum3() was passed ":varg->size():" parameters"
014        loop while varg->size() do
015             result += varg->next() ;* Get next argument and decrement varg->size()
016         repeat
017         return result
018     end method

Compile and catalog both programs (tour.jabba and tour_methods.jabba).

*** When compiled and cataloged, the .jabba extension is dropped from the name, resulting in the names of the programs becoming tour and tour_methods.

You can now run the tour program, you should see results like this: 

Socrates lived in Athens.

Our object in JSON representation is: {"name":"Socrates","city":"Athens"}
Our object, when formatted, is:

Our object has 2 properties.
Method Tour::sum3() was passed 6 parameters
After calling sum3() the result is: 5,778

Object dump: Class "Tour", refcount 1, type = OBJECT
             Number of values 3, object address 0000000000E51150
"name" : SHORT STRING string 'Socrates'
"city" : SHORT STRING string 'Athens'
"sum" : INTEGER value 6


Note that the JSON representation of the object now has the "sum" property.

This next example creates an object from a JSON string and then displays the object in JSON format:

$option jabba
equ beautify to 1
json_string = \{"int":42,"string":"forty-two","jarray":[1,2,3,4],"jbase":{"jbase":"Is Great!"}}\
json_obj = json_string->$fromjson()
crt json_obj->$tojson(beautify)

Our JSON string contains an embedded array and an embedded JSON object. 

Running that code displays: 

                "jbase":"Is Great!"

Let's create an array with 10 elements and then delete one of them:

ray = new array      ;* Arrays can also have methods, in which case we would need to specify a name for the array
for x = 0 to 9       ;* arrays are zero-based
    ray->@x = x + 1  ;* The "@" signifies an indirect reference to a variable, used in the same manner as @subroutine calls
next x
crt ray->$tojson()   ;* show the JSON representation
crt ray->$size()     ;* how many elements do we have
ray->$delete(5)      ;* delete the 6th element
crt ray->$tojson()
crt ray->$size()     ;* we now have 9 elements

Dynamic Objects can also interact with the database. Dynamic Files, type JD, are the only file type that support this interaction.

0001     program startest
0002     star = new object
0003     star->id = "1"
0004     star->actor = "Mark Hamill"
0005     star->name = "Luke Skywalker"
0006     star->father = "Darth Vader"
0007     star->$setboolean("isjedi", @true)
0008     open "starwars" to filevar else
0009         execute "create-file starwars" ;* create a Dynamic File
0010         open "starwars" to filevar else stop 201, "starwars"
0011     end
0012     write star on filevar, star->id
0013     read rec from filevar, star->id else stop 202, star->id
0014     crt "Actor: ":rec->actor
0015     if rec->father eq "Darth Vader" and rec->isjedi eq @true then
0016         crt "The Force is strong with you, ":rec->name:"!"
0017     end
jsh ~ -->startest
[ 417 ] File starwars]D created , type = JD
[ 417 ] File starwars created , type = JD
Actor: Mark Hamill
The Force is strong with you, Luke Skywalker!
jsh ~ -->

The JED and ED editors will convert the object to JSON to be edited and, when written back, will be re-converted to an object:

jsh ~ -->jed starwars 1

File starwars , Record '1' (JSON Object)
0001 {
0002     "id":1,
0003     "actor":"Mark Hamill",
0004     "name":"Luke Skywalker",
0005     "father":"Darth Vader",
0006     "isjedi":true
0007 }.

Neither editor will allow the record to be written if the JSON format is invalid and will produce an error similar to this: 

Error: Parsing error at line 2 , offset 11
Record is not properly formatted JSON. Cannot WRITE record.

Edit record again ?

This is the end of our introduction. All current Dynamic Objects documentation can be found here.

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